Head swim coach at Perth City Swim Club (based at Perth Leisure Pool), and former P.E. teacher, Ann Dickson, was recently recognised for her excellent coaching talent, having been awarded sportscotland's Lifetime Achievement Award for Coaching. Over her 25 year career, Ann has guided young swimmers to Commonwealth and Olympic glory - amongst countless other successes!
Some of the big names she’s trained during her career include Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic medallist Stephen Milne, Gold Coast swimmer Scott McLay, and Camilla Hattersley who competed at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.
But amidst these great victories, perhaps the greatest gift she imparts to her pupils is a joy and passion for swimming. This really takes a special kind of person. Speaking to President of Perth City Swim Club Carol McPartland, she said, "Ann spends essentially all of her free time coaching. Her students are like her extended family. We have 135 members and I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't know each and every one by name. That's just the kind of person she is."
I had the pleasure of chatting to Ann about what it was like to be recognised for her hard work, how she got started with coaching, and the most rewarding parts of her career – thus far!
Small City: How does it feel to have won such an important accolade?
Ann: It was very nice to be awarded and to receive recognition for something you’ve really enjoyed doing all your life. I’m very invested in sport, and it was an honour to be recognised for my work by an organisation as established as Sports Scotland.
SC: You’ve been training youngsters for 25 years. How did you get into swim coaching initially?
I can’t see myself stopping coaching. It’s my hobby and my passion.Ann: I was a swimmer at 16, but I didn’t feel that I was as good as I would have liked to be. It was difficult to balance this with all the other things in my life at the time, exams and schoolwork. When I told my swim coach at the time, he recommended that I look into pursuing coaching, and that’s where it all began for me. I went on to pursue this in higher education, studying P.E. at university and gaining a coaching qualification too. After this, I went onto Inverkeithing where I worked as an assistant to the Head Coach at the time at InCAS Swimming Club – and worked my way up to get to where I am today.
SC: What has fostered your passion for coaching over the years?
Ann: People are passionate about becoming better swimmers, and I am passionate about helping them get there. I firmly believe that being a member of a small club doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your full potential, and I am passionate about showing this time and time again.
SC: What is it like seeing your students progress: whether that be seeing themselves achieve a personal goal, even seeing some of your athletes go on to win medals at the Olympics?
Ann: You feel proud playing a role in helping them to achieve their goals – you share in all the fun and joy of training, and the hard work too. Their successes rely on the level of hard work they put in, and I am happy that through guiding and leading them, I am able to foster their talent.
SC: What’s next for you: are you going to continue coaching far into the future?
Ann: I can’t see myself stopping. It’s my hobby and my passion. Perhaps in the future I would like to travel, but for now I see myself coaching for long into the future.
Thanks to Live Active Leisure for use of their Perth Leisure Pool photographs; (c) Fraser Band.
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